Things to Do in Colorado
San Juan Skyway
This 236-mile route, a Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway as well as a National Forest Scenic Byway, passes through mountains, forests, old mining towns, ski resorts and ancient ruins.
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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72 reviews
Very good

Missouri City, TX1,110 contributions
Oct 2019
This entire scenic byway covers a distance of 236 miles. We drove the entire portion at different times except for the part from Cortez to Durango. The most popular portion is from Ouray to Silverton called the Million Dollar Highway where the road if driving north to south has steep drop offs with no guardrails and twisty turns. The whole byway goes through the San Juan Mountains and the scenery is just outstanding. We happened to catch the fall leaves just right in October and couldn't have asked for a better experience..
Written January 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Denver, CO3,897 contributions
Oct 2022 • Couples
We drove along this road to reach Telluride. It’s very pretty with large properties along the way. We saw the Telluride airport and I was amazed at how it’s on a mountain. I saw a house I’d like to live in. In an area I would like to live in. The views were tremendous. We drove on it again leaving Telluride and it’s pretty. The colors are amazing. Bright pops of yellow amidst green and brown tones. I enjoyed the drive a lot, taking lots of photos that cannot capture the beauty I saw.
Written October 14, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Santa Fe, NM32 contributions
Jun 2013 • Couples
A tip: drive from Durango to Ouray to Telluride and around through Dolores back to Durango. Driving the Million Dollar Highway (Silverton to Ouray) the other direction is just way too scary.

This was one spectacular drive. Get an early start. I drove from Silverton to Ouray because I knew I wouldn't take my eyes off the yellow center-line and I wasn't too sure that my partner would be so focused. But there are plenty of places to pull over and take photos. The unfortunate problem with this drive is the bicyclists. It is terrifying to round one of the jillion tight corners on the edge of a cliff (with no shoulder or railing) to find a car in your lane because he's trying to pass YET ANOTHER BICYCLIST. Bicyclists on this road are risking their own lives as well as the lives of others. It's hard to believe people are this foolish.

One pull-over is on the other side (cliff side) of the road--but pull in and park anyway. Recognize it by the extensive railings. It's an overlook of a spectacular falls.

Stay overnight in Ouray so you're not in such a hurry that you miss all the sights on your way there.

Ouray was frighteningly expensive but with free parking. Very quaint town. For an inexpensive yet delicious dinner, get great sandwiches on the Ouray Brewery rooftop--and breakfast at the Backstreet Bagel Deli. Do NOT miss the falls in the box canyon just before town! It's just a tiny little walk that anyone can do.

Throw the ball for your dog at the Ridgeway Reservoir.

Proceed to Telluride. Have a sandwich at Brown Bag and treat your tastebuds. Public bathrooms are on the same block. Then hike up to Bridal Veil Falls. Take water and please don't drive: you're just wrecking the experience for everyone else and you'll miss lots of scenery, singing birds, wildflowers, and other falls along the way anyway. Be amazed by the falls, which blow this way and that with the winds. Save enough time to enjoy the beautiful scenery going south from Telluride--and visit the scenic overlooks to learn about the history of the place. You can see vestiges of the legendary Ophir Loop of the Rio Grande Southern, carved impossibly into the steep mountainsides. You can even see the old right-of-way at Lizard Head Pass, elevation 10,222 feet. Drive by the mystical looking mesas of Mesa Verde, then finally back to Durango by evening.
Written July 12, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Asoka Godawita
South Pasadena, CA203 contributions
Oct 2011 • Couples
We recently read an article in AAA news magazine written by a writer who has done San Juan Skyway tour during 2011 fall. It made me so enthusiastic to do this trip before winter start, but during the fall months, I cancelled an already arranged trip to Yosemite National Park in California and decided driving from Los Angeles to Colorado with my wife.

First day we stayed in Flagstaff and second day we traveled to Cortez, Colorado via Monumental Valley, UT by US 89, US 160 and US 163. We continue on US 163 N, US 191 N, UT 162, CO 41 and US 491N to Cortez, Co where we stayed our second night. The journey from Flagstaff to Cortez via Mexican Hat was amazing and at each mile we enjoyed.

In Cortez we could visit the Mesa Verde National Park,; 10 miles towards Durango on US 160E which is part of the San Juan Skyway.

At Mesa Verde we expected the cliff dwelling nearby but it was good 23 mile one way travel on constant climb winding road with very low speed limit. It was late and our gas tank was near empty we had return to Cortez.

Next day the temperature was about 26 – 50 but very sunny at lower elevations, we started early from Cortez on CO 145 to Dolores, Rico, Ophir and Telluride. The road was snowy but reasonably safe. The tree line fall colors; some covered with snow was beyond belief; we rested at many places link Ophir. The snow caped hill tops and steep driving was absolute awesome.

It was a weekend and Telluride was a still asleep at about 11.00am. The small Victorian style town was absolutely beautiful. We traveled on many inner tiny alley ways where speed limit was 10.

After a few mile travel on CO 145 we turned to CO 62 E and reached Ridgway, another beautiful and very charming small town. We did some shopping in this town before we started the journey to Silverton.

On way to Silverton it was snowing but some areas was still sunny. The driving in this sector was fun but it was really tricky and I had to be extra careful.

The best place we like was Silverton, we had late lunch at a small restaurant; I do not remember the name, but the staff / owners were so nice, supper friendly and food was awesome. While we were having lunch snowing started and we wanted to get back to Durango before dark.

From Silverton to Durango sector was breathtaking but driving had to be absolutely careful. No space even for one second mistake. Road was so narrow and both side covered with snow.

We, after a few days driving tour, returned to Los Angeles, via Farmington / Ship rock / Gallup New Mexico. On our way we also visited Petrified Forest National Park. We also stayed in Gallup, New Mexico.

I did all these travel / driving with my wife who a disable but a very motivated, helpful and positive is thinking Lady. I personally feel that even though it was daring drive, it was absolute an experience of our life time. I strongly recommend traveling in this sector at least once. I did similar travel covering US 101 from / to Los Angeles to Washington State circle around the Olympic National Park, WA.
Written November 3, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Northbrook, IL32 contributions
My family and I drove the Skyway (US 550) from Durango to Montrose on August 15th during a Colorado vacation. I would rank it as one of the best driving experiences of my life, certainly on par with Highway 1 in California.

Anyone who is thinking of driving the Skyway should be aware that the road twists and turns through the mountains, with many, many steep dropoffs unprotected by guardrails. There are hairpin turns and double hairpin turns where recommended speeds (and you should take their recommendations!) are as low as 15 MPH. As such, the road requires the driver's full concentration - it's a very bad idea for the driver to look away from the road in most places, unless you're interested in seeing how far down a cliff your car can fall.

All that being said, my family and I look back on the drive as being one of the highlights of the trip. The scenery is amazing, and you have a sense of going through the mountains that you just don't get on an Interstate.

One note: Going north on US 550, the highway straightens out dramatically once you pass through Ouray all the way to Montrose. Montrose was a good stopping point for the night, with a very good Holiday Inn Express in town.
Written August 23, 2006
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Phoenix, AZ198 contributions
Aug 2014 • Couples
I have driven the San Juan Skyway twice now. This will provide a general overview of the route and it's attractions. It loops through the San Juan Mts of Southwest Colorado via US 160 (cortez to Durango), US 550 (Durango-Silverton-Ouray-Ridgeway), Colorado 62 (Telluride) and 145 (Back to Cortez). The abbreviated version of either the east portion or west portion of the loop is equally breathtaking and should be done if time does not permit. In winter the high mountain passes could be closed due to snow. Any other time is worth the effort HOWEVER, if you can time it for the first 2 weeks of October you will get he Aspens turning along with some early snow on the higher elevations. Simply gorgeous!
The highlights of the drive are the passes. Molas Pass just south of Silverton, Red Mountain Pass above Silverton and Camp Bird Mining Ghost town coming down from Red Mountain Pass, and Lizard Head Pass South of Telluride are "must sees".

Durango and Telluride are your main "towns". However, since they are both ski resorts and have many summer festival activities the accommodations and restaurants are much pricier. Basic accommodations for 2 will run 140 per night. Historical Hotels will go higher. A few independents exist on the North side of Durango going out of town but I would still assume those to be 100-110. Silverton and Ouray are quaint old mining towns dedicated to tourism. Because of how they are situated on the route they too will run about 125-150 per night. Cortez (and if you want to drive a short distance North to Montross) offers cheaper accommodations (about 75 for two in the older independent operations).

All towns have the artsy tourism shops, while Durango and Telluride through in a few higher end galleries. Durango also offers the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge RR that is quite the summer attraction. Silverton and Ouray are worth stops if nothing than to take a look around or get something to eat. If you hit Silverton during the day you are liable tosee the narrow gauge train parked on it's siding waiting to head back to Durango. Much better photo ops than the train while it's in it's yard in Durango.

Also, being a golfer: Durango's courses are Hillcrest Golf, the public, local links ($55) and Dalton Ranch is Semi Private but looks to be a bear of a course and runs ($110) north of town about 10 miles. Montross, Ridgeway, and Cortez all offer public courses. Telluride is private only.

Written September 15, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

25 contributions
Jul 2013
The whole loop is awesome but Red Mountain Pass, which is by far the gem of the trip, is not to be taken lightly. Drive north from Silverton to Ouray and you'll get less of the "cliff-edge" driving. Ouray to Silverton is a little more intense in my opinion. Don't attempt this section if you've never driven in the mountains before. A good test drive is from Durango to Silverton. Once you are past Durango Mountain Resort you get a little taste of what to expect coming up. Go the speed limits and no faster. I've lived in Colorado for about 3 years so it was just a little nervy but SPECTACULAR!!!!
Written July 18, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Panora, IA243 contributions
Oct 2017 • Couples
We had been on this road several years ago and did not remember it being as treacherous or difficult as we were reading in posts. We went again and did not find it to be as “scary” as many contributors would have you believe. There were only a very few miles that had tight curves, minimal shoulders and would be considered semi-narrow roads. There was always two full lanes. We went clockwise (which many say you should not do) as it fit into our schedule better. We did not feel that we had more miles of being on the “outside” edge going this direction vs going counter clockwise. This road has only a few sections we would consider true “mountain driving” but we have been on many we consider more difficult and we’re from Iowa. There were turnouts along the way if you want to go slower than those who come up behind you. I hope no one misses the chance to see the beauty of the area because they are concerned they could not navigate the road. Unless you have serious problems staying within the lines on the road, you can do this. Ouray and Silverton give you reasons to break up the drive.
Written November 27, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Patty J
Philadelphia632 contributions
Sep 2017 • Family
My husband, 21 year old son and I were in awe of this drive. Without stops, it would take 5-6 hours, but we made so many stops that it took 12 hours! The views, sheer drops, magnificent mountains, waterfalls, aspens turning gold and more of nature's beauty kept us looking for more. I felt sorry for my husband who was driving because he had to keep his eye on the road while we were gawking at the scenery. We made many stops, though, so he could enjoy the views. We also stopped in the towns of Ouray, Silverton, Durango and Alta to experience the towns. I definitely recommend this trip!
Written September 9, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Austin, TX2,435 contributions
Jul 2014 • Couples
Mountain views at their best. It is, however, mountain driving which includes steep grades, sharp turns sometimes without guardrails, and falling rocks in some places. Follow the speed limit and other warning signs and you will be fine.

There are 2 sections of this loop: Ridgeway to Cortez via Rte. 62 and 145 which takes to near Telluride (82 miles), and Rte 550 from Ridgeway to Durango which takes you through Ouray and Silverton (76 miles). The section between Ouray and Silverton (11 miles) is known as The Million Dollar Highway and is by far the most spectacular. The curves are quite sharp, many at 25 mph, 15 mph, and one that is 10 mph. There are a number of mountain passes, waterfalls, mountain lakes, a couple of tunnels, and several quint towns along the routes.

Telluride is a must-see, as is Ouray. Silverton is quite touristy since it is the terminus of the Durango-Silverton Railway. Ouray is touted as "The Switzerland of America". Telluride is just heaven on earth. Food and drink options are best in these 3 towns, as are the gas prices.

There are a number of turn outs and overlooks for photo opportunities along the way.

Written July 19, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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San Juan Skyway (Colorado) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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